Look at your to-do list for the week. Does it involve entries like “save the world” or “become a billionaire”? If your answer is yes, you’re either Superman or failing spectacularly at achieving your goals.
While you can make financial goals that are as difficult or as easy to achieve as you like, working towards them isn’t about reaching for the stars and other motivational crap like that. If you want to have a better chance at succeeding, you need to break down your goals into easy daily tasks or challenges so your poor human brain doesn’t collapse under the weight of your ambitions. Here are some suggestions.
Give yourself a daily rather than a monthly allowance
So you’ve decided to save x% of your salary, but somehow you end up overspending in the third week of each month, and by the end of the month you’re saving pennies..
Some people say “paying yourself” helps, but when you do that and then find two weeks into a month that you don’t even have the money to buy a cup of whipped potato from 7-11, you’re faced with the choice of starving or reaching into your savings.
Well, remember how when you were a kid, your parents used to give you a daily allowance? There’s a good reason they didn’t just hand over a full year’s worth of allowance all at one go—you’ve got to be very disciplined to manage a lump money over such a long period of time, and 8-year-old you would have just spent the whole lot on Pokemon cards.
If you have trouble meeting your savings goals, you might want to pay yourself daily instead of monthly. Just divide your salary (minus fixed costs like your phone and internet bill) by the number of days in the month, and then withdraw the amount you’re allowed to spend that day in cash. If you’ve pledged to save 20% of your salary, put that amount away immediately—whether by transferring it to long-term savings account, hiding it in a sock or whatever.
List one item on Carousell every day
Let’s face it—many Singaporeans (myself included) own way too many things. We don’t have a DIY culture, and buying nice new things to replace older items that are still serviceable is quite normal.
One easy way to earn a bit of spare cash while getting rid of all your junk is by selling it online. Now, the most obvious problem is that creating online listings on websites like eBay and Gumtree is pretty darned time-consuming. I once managed to make a few hundred dollars a month selling my old clothes and accessories on eBay, but eventually gave up because I didn’t want to spend 8 hours every weekend taking and uploading pictures and creating listings.
Thanks to mobile app Carousell, listing an item for sale is just a matter of taking a photo of it with your smartphone and then uploading it to the platform. The app is also way more popular amongst locals than eBay ever was, so sales tend to move fast.
Commit to uploading just one item every day and by the end of the year you’ll have significantly reduced clutter while enjoying a steady flow of spare cash. Unless you’re selling air purifiers for $10 during haze season, people might not buy your items immediately, so you might not make much on your first day.
But by the end of 3 months you’ll have listed 90 items while spending a maximum of 5 minutes a day. Sell each of those items for just $10 each and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent side income right there.
If you buy one new item, you have to sell one old item you own
Many Singaporeans are addicted to accumulating stuff. Some people manage to buy something every single time they step out of the house, whether it’s clothes, video games, homeware, smartphones for their 2-year-old kids or whatever.
To prevent your house from turning into a cockroach-infested hoarder’s den, and also to stop yourself from buying so much crap, commit to selling an item you own (of similar or greater value) each time you purchase a new item, so as to make back the cost of your new buy. Before you take your new item to the counter in the shopping mall, you have to have already identified which old item you plan to to get rid of.
If you’ve already committed to selling one item as we talked about earlier, you’ll have to get rid of an additional one for each new thing you buy.
You might think you’ve got a ton of stuff at home ready to sell. But the task of searching for an item you can sell at the same price before you buy anything new will encourage you to abandon purchases that you don’t feel that compelled to make. It also forces you to slow down and think, and time makes the vast majority of impulse purchases appear less attractive.
How do you trick yourself into spending less and saving more? Tell us in the comments!